Capsaicin in contact lenses

I was making a delicious batch of tamales with jalapenos and cheese as per my usual Christmas festivities. I didn’t have access to any gloves and hours later put some contact lenses in which of course burned the hell out of my eyes.

I tried to use these same contact lenses weeks later and unfortunately, they still burn my eyes. They are kind of expensive because they are custom manufactured for my astigmatism and I am loathe to toss them out.

Is there any way that I can dilute the capsaicin to some tolerable level? Would soaking each of them in a gallon of water for a couple of days help?

I understand that casein binds to fat molecules and somehow will reduce the effects of capsaicin but soaking them in milk doesn’t sound like a particularly safe way to store one’s contacts.

What’s the straight dope? By the way, these are soft contact lenses.

Tricky. Water alone won’t do much. You really need some sort of detergent to dissolve the capsaicin, but I’m not sure if there’s anything safe for both soft contacts and your eyes. Maybe plenty rinsing and soaking with the right sort of contact lens cleaning solution would work?

It looks like milk or cream is the way to go. I found this:

From Someone else on the same page reported success with soaking overnight in milk. I don’t think skim would be useful - you need the fat for the capsaicin to bond to, so whole milk would be the best pick.

I’m not an opthalmologist and I don’t even wear contact lenses any more, but unfortunately, the safest plan would be to replace the lenses. If they don’t sting, I don’t think they’ll be harmful, but I promise nothing.

Does hydrogen peroxide do anything? If it does, picking up a ClearCare kit would do the trick, that’s what it uses to clean contacts overnight. But make sure you let them soak in there for six hours or you’ll just burn your eyes with that instead.

Why not call your eye doctor? Seems like they might have some ideas…

I would disinfect after the soaking in milk step. I don’t think just rinsing would be enough to be sanitary.

I have had good success with rubbing alcohol or baking soda solution with pepper reside on my fingers. Don’t know if they are safe on contacts

Hijack, but I remember Alton Brown talking about how touching his eyes (presumably with contact lenses in them) after cutting peppers was the reason that he could no longer wear contact lenses.

Hmm, they aren’t all that expensive. Maybe I’ll just toss them out. I only wore them once though, so it kind of bums me out.

Just try the milk. The sole reason I came into this thread was to suggest that very thing. In culinary school we learned that while everyone reaches for water when things get hot, they should be reaching for milk. We were told that this was because it is the OILS in the chilies (specifically the seeds) that give them their heat. Water and oil obviously don’t mix so drinking water does almost nothing but milk has lactic ACID in it which cuts through the oils thereby giving your mouth the much needed relief.

You don’t need to soak/store them for days in milk, the reaction should happen very quickly so you’ll only need to do it ONCE, just plop them in milk for a few minutes, rinse them off or (if you must) store them overnight in their regular solution and you shouldn’t have anymore problems.

I always thought it was the fat globules in milk that absorbed the capsaicin. Any sort of soap/detergent would work just as well, if not better, at rinsing away capsaicin. But if you’re trying to drink something with a bit of fat in it milk is the only option.

No advice to share, just wanted to say this is a primary reason I no longer wear contacts. :eek: :eek: :eek:

Don’t use contacts any more, but ran into this problem a few times when I did. What I found worked was enzyming the lenses.

What a lens-saver! I’d used some spray to try to deter squirrels that’s made out of Capsaicin and had a heck of a time trying to figure out why I was burning up my contact lenses. The hydrogen peroxide-water-milk-water-lense-solution worked wonderfully. I thank you all and my bank account thanks you!

What about soaking them in tea? “They” say to drink some tea if you are eating something too spicy hot for your tender tongue. Maybe it’s the acid in it that clears out the buds, and would work comparably to the lactic acid in milk products? But I agree with our wise Athena, call the doc. I’ll bet it won’t be the first time he’s heard such a tale.

Forgot to say that the dishwashing liquid wash and then rubbing alcohol rinse took it off my hands also.

I’m surprised at how many people choose peppers over contacts. Something I’ve learned over the years is to wear gloves. I keep a box of vinyl gloves in the house. Any time I’m working with peppers or raw meat, I put them on, do what I need to do and peel them off, right into the garbage. Whatever I’m working with never gets on my hands. I can work with chicken and move right on to the next thing. I can work with jalapenos and not burn my eyes out when I take out my contacts later that night.

They’re also nice to have around the house for general cleaning or even checking the oil on the car or snowblower. Why wash your hands when you can just not get them dirty to begin with.

Wait–if fat is the stuff you want, half-and-half would be better than milk; and cream even better. Followed by liquid oil, no?

had to throw mine out. It was hilarious.

This is me just after putting them in: :eek: :smack:

Sour cream, because acids also break down the capsaicin.